Magpies, Squirrels and Thieves: How the Victorians Collected the World Hardcover – 1 May 2011
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'In Magpies, Squirrels and Thieves, Jacqueline Yallop throws the windows wide, showing how nineteenth-century collections rose and fell, and, through the lives of the collectors, how the Victorians thought. Her book is original, intelligent - and highly entertaining.' --Judith Flanders
'A tremendous book, brimming over with strange compelling images and glittering morsels to tempt the magpie reader. This really is a cabinet of curiosities, delights and revelations.' --Alexandra Harris
The rivetingly bizarre stories of the passionate and eccentric Victorian collectors who braved war zones, revolutions, thieves and auction rooms to amass the great collections of nineteenth-century England: 'Yallop's flair for storytelling is evident at every turn.' Scotsman --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
The subject should be interesting, given the breadth and diversity of Victorian collecting. But I only got about 10% before I had to give up. It had not gripped me at all.
For me, the writing is just to dull. It's a bit like a students first long essay: the author wants to get everything in, making sure the reader is fully aware of the effort and research that has gone in, without then getting a good editor to strip out all the unnecessary stuff. I also found it rather repetitive, the same information or point appearing time and time again.
Other reviewers have obviously found the book impressive, but it didn't work for me.
This extremely interesting book looks at five Victorian collectors - from the professional to the eccentric - and explores the way Victorian collectors went to almost any lengths to find that elusive item they wanted, needed and had to have. There is John Charles Robinson, curator at what would become the Victoria and Albert Museum, and founder member of the Fine Arts Club. Lady Charlotte Schreiber was the widow of a steel magnate and a traveller, who scoured Europe for treasures. Murray Marks was a professional dealer, as well as a collector, mainly dealing in Holland. Joseph Mayer was a Liverpool jeweller, who liked to collect Roman remains, Egyptian antiquities, coins and Anglo Saxon archeology. Lastly, there is Stephen Wootton Bushell, who was the doctor to a British delegation in China, who became an expert on Chinese art. This was a time when people could collect items which would now be considered as belonging to countries, rather than individuals, and the people in this book took full advantage of this ability.
None of these people are now well known and the author has brought them vividly and wonderfully to life, in all their eccentric and wonderful glory. The Victorians had a desire to know about everything and, for them, no knowledge was unimportant. Whether a person was interested in art, glass or fans, their collecting was seen as a valid hunt and the collecting bug was widespread. It was a fashionable hobby and those that could, indulged it to the full. I am sure you will enjoy this book, although sometimes you may be incredulous at the lengths some of the collectors went to - or, if you are a collector too, perhaps you will understand and even admire. Great fun and very interesting to read about how museums evolved in the Victorian era. Highly recommended.
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